Every two weeks or so, I search flickr for new photos of pink bathrooms to invite to the Save The Pink Bathrooms group. That’s how I first *met* Alexandra Lee. She had taken some gorgeous photos of her parents’ pink bathroom, and it turns out, she had many other photos that I would describe as “luminous” in a way that respects the light and all the objects that surround us. Alexandra works in the fashion world, has a background in architecture, and has a new blog, what yaya likes. And even though she seems to be describing her home style as “California Country,” I thought we could learn some wonderful things from her (plus ogle her gorgeous images.) So I asked her to answer some questions.

Here’s what Alexandra has to say:

How does your work in the fashion industry influence your interior design aesthetic?

A great outfit is all about proportion and balance- even 1/8” makes a difference in creating the perfect look for a garment.  Making visual assessments like this daily  translates back into my home environment- searching for the perfect lamp to balance the weight of an end table, slightly changing the angle of a chair to affect the proportion of the room, making sure my color palette is engaging and agreeable.  I’ve always absolutely loved fabric; working in apparel, I find that I am bringing new assessments of handfeel, finish, and construction to the home textiles I am attracted to.

Even more so than the very direct parallels (color, print, fabric, details), I find that current styling direction and lifestyle influences start to pop up in my home.  I work creatively all through the day, which sets me up with a very forward-looking mindset; when it comes back to my personal aesthetic, I’m still wired to seek out “what is next”.  What I am excited about in fashion right now- layering textures, added embellishment, eclectic combinations of modern and vintage, mixing materials, creating a base wardrobe of classics with novelty pieced in- could be applied directly to what I am excited about in interior design and how I shape my own personal aesthetic.

How did growing up in such a pretty … idyllic, even… mid-century home affect you and your view of design?

What hit me immediately when I first walked in the house was what we still call “the feel” – it had an obvious strength of heritage and family.   We renovated slowly with care, really working to restore and enhance the architectural integrity of the home.  I could elaborate for pages on how we did this!  As a finished product, it actually has a very current feel- expanses of windows, bright open ceilings, an open plan- but all well-grounded within the era of the space.  Like this home, my view of design is very much about mixing old with new, emphasizing joyful light, and nurturing innate qualities to bring forward something beautiful.  It is very easy to find vintage objects or spaces and memorialize them merely as artifacts.  After living in this house, I learned to celebrate the beauty and principle of the past by supplementing it with harmonious current touches of today.  My favorite way to do this is through material- I love to build collections of different eras and detail, but with consistent physical elements- glassware, home textiles, even jewelry.

Your photos are so “luminous” — the “light” is the star. Talk to me about “light.”

Honestly, I just love light!  I’m always seeking out the window seat at a restaurant and try to be outside in the sunshine as much as I possibly can!  What I love about light is it’s changing qualities through the day, the way it forces you to focus on an item or view for that one specific moment, because it never will be exactly the same again.  I take a lot of pictures because of this- I don’t want to miss anything that I think is beautiful.  When you go back, it is never the same.

All of my background and education in architecture has really influenced my photography- when designing, I was always fascinated by how light and sun exposure could be “shaped” to create environments.  Photography gives me the same excitement and even control- I love to see how I can capture or shape the light to create a mood for the viewer and really portray a sense of physical environment.  Early in the morning is prime photography time for me- the day is fresh and the light is crisp, warm, inviting and positive.

Readers, the quote that really resonates with me (emphasis mine):

What I am excited about in fashion right now- layering textures, added embellishment, eclectic combinations of modern and vintage, mixing materials, creating a base wardrobe of classics with novelty pieced in- could be applied directly to what I am excited about in interior design and how I shape my own personal aesthetic.

I think this is right on, and worth paying attention to. Invest in classics when it comes to the expensive, lasting stuff… then layer, add bling, get eclectic — and get creative — with accessories and soft goods. It’s funny, but these same terms apply to collage — another art form that has a lot of learning to offer us as we grapple with designing interiors that deliver both function and beauty.

Oh, and one more thing. I love this quote that Alexandra put on her website. It is my quote of the year:

still round the corner there may wait, a new road or a secret gate – jrr tolkien

Thank you, Alexandra. You are a rising star.

To get to Alexandra’s flickr images, click on any of the images featured in this story.

  1. SaraTinkelman says:

    Ms Lee is both a gentle genius and a lucky duck. I my view, she’s right up there with William Morris when it comes to layering, contrasting, fanatical attention to balance (Remember “A Christmas Story”? “…oh, you don’t have to tell me! I’m not COLOR blind!”. “I’m not color blind either…”, followed by “Now that star… is …crooked…” “That star is perfectly *fine*!”). All this by way of saying not everyone has ms Lee’s gifts, so it’s a good thing we have her, and those few like her, around to set beautiful examples of the possible to us. A thousand thank-yous!

  2. Kelly says:

    Beautiful photos and a super nice article. It’s so true about “classics”. I’d never really thought of the parallels between interior design and fashion design.

  3. MrsErinD says:

    Beautiful photos, she is a truly gifted photographer! Adorable kitty too! :O)

    I’ve always thought peoples true style was like how they like to dress, if they tend to be more spare and simple, or pile on the accesories, or how I feel I am ~ in between, etc.

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